The Lord of the Rings alum Elijah Wood took his turn in the hot seat on Dax Shepard’s and co-host Monica Padman’s ‘Armchair Expert’ podcast today and discussed his life and career, including beginning as a child actor. The interview would not have been complete without discussing the legendary Lord of the Rings films. Dax Shepard, of course, loved the trilogy, but admitted he delighted in the insider story of how the films were ultimately made at New Line Cinema after Miramax were seemingly dragging their feet, leaving the projects dying on the vine.
The Lord of The Rings lore is told this way. In the mid-90s, Miramax bought the rights to the beloved J. R. R. Tolkien books and threw a few million dollars at the project to get it started. As the epic project began taking shape, it was apparent to producer-director Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh that the films would not be made in any way that had been agreed upon, including the timeline. Jackson and Walsh asked co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, if they could shop the films to other studios where the story would mirror closer to their vision.
“And Miramax said we will only give it back to you in turnaround but two things have to happen. One: You have to go get it set up this weekend. And two: Whoever agrees has to agree to make all three at once,” Shepard said, relaying the story as he was told it, to which Wood agreed, was spot on.
“The window of time was insane,” Wood continues. “They shopped it around town. Peter made a pitch video that’s pretty impressive, taken to a variety of places. Most people were balking at the notion of doing more than one film. The popular opinion was, ‘No, you have to see how [the initial movie] does and then invest the rest of your money.'”
Peter Jackson then met with Bob Shaye at New Line Cinema where a three film deal was miraculously made. “I think the lore is that they were coming with two and it was Bob Shaye who said, ‘We have to do three,’ which is insane,” Wood said. “An incredible risk. Miramax thought there was no chance in hell.”
Though that tale could easily stand on its own, Wood went even further to blow Shepard’s and Padman’s minds, with a follow-up story to Harvey Weinstein‘s impossible demands. “It’s funny, this was recently spoken about because Dom (Monaghan) and Bill (Boyd) have a podcast, ‘The Friendship Onion.’ They were talking to Sean Astin about his first memory of getting to New Zealand,” explains Wood. “He had seen these Orc masks. And one of the Orc masks – and I remember this vividly – was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein as a sort of a f*ck you.”
Wood summed it all up, continuing through the threesome’s laughter, “I think that is OK to talk about now, the guy is fucking incarcerated. F*ck him.”